I’ve just watched a new movie from director Atom Egoyan (“Devil’s Knot”, “Where The Truth Lies”). Titled “Remember” the film is a drama / thriller, set in North American in the present day.
Zev Gutman (Christopher Plummer – “Dreamscape”, “The Silent Partner”) is an elderly man who lives in an old folks’ home. We understand from the outset that he is suffering from dementia as he forgets that his wife has just died.
Another resident of the home, Max Rosenbaum (Martin Landau – “Space : 1999”, “North By Northwest”), who himself is confined to a wheelchair and has respiratory problems, explains to Zev that they are both survivors of the horrors of Auschwitz where both of their families were killed. Max reminds Zev that he had promised that once his wife had passed away he would track down the man responsible for those deaths, a Nazi named Otto Wallisch, and gives him a letter with all the information that he needs to do so – and to remember what he has set out to do.
Max had established that Wallisch apparently took on a Jewish name – Rudy Kurlander – to escape from the Allies at the end of the war, and moved to the U.S. He has tracked down the addresses of four men named Rudy Kurlander that could be Wallisch and so Zev slips away from the home and starts his trek around the States, causing much worry and frustration for his son Charles (Henry Czerny – “Mission : Impossible”, “Revenge”).
Gradually, with the letter to help combat his memory problems, Zev tracks the four men down. The first Kurlander (Bruno Ganz – “Downfall”, “Unknown”) was a soldier during the war, but served in Africa, and the second (Heinz Lieven – “Not My Day”, “Within The Whirlwind”) had been an inmate at Auschwitz because he was homosexual.
The third Kurlander proves to have died, but his son John (Dean Norris – “The Frozen Ground”, “Breaking Bad”), a state trooper, believing Zev to be an old comrade of his father’s insists that he should stay to see his dad’s collection of Nazi memorabilia. Despite an extensive collection, including an S.S. uniform, John lets on that his dad was just a cook in the war.
Despite being hospitalised after a fall, Zev eventually finds the fourth Kurlander (Jürgen Prochnow – “The DaVinci Code”, “Das Boot”) and confronts him, just as Charles finally tracks his missing father down. The climactic confrontation has a huge twist for all concerned, however…
I thought that this was an excellent drama. Plummer portrayed with great effect the pain of a man de-discovering every day that his beloved wife is dead, and the constant confusion that dementia sufferers have to deal with. The fact that his own memory was fleeting at best meant that he was completely reliant on what he had been told by Max, which gives rise to the troubling thought of just how vulnerable sufferers are to being misled.